This letter I sent to the Northants Telegraph was published in full in the 23rd March edition. Although written through the prism of Desborough’s current situation, the point relates to the County Council’s finances and other communities within Northamptonshire too.
A visit to a Desborough Town Council meeting recently set me thinking about driving. Desborough’s local tax has been increased by the Conservative controlled town council from £19.10 to £95.26 (Band d property over 2 years). In doing so they have jumped into a vehicle which they now appear to be struggling to control.
To some Northamptonshire County Councillors, presiding over an impossible deficit, the plan to free themselves of direct control of all services must seem quite appealing. Potholes don’t fill themselves. Indeed even the recent attempt by government to push through legislation ‘freeing up’ local authorities from their Child Protection duties, unleashing the potential to ‘innovate’, must have seemed like a good idea to some. Mercifully, at the last minute, government couldn’t agree with itself about that.
I would suggest that such tendencies in our elected representatives, especially in Northamptonshire’s case, are more akin to freeing up the steering wheel and depressing the accelerator. An eccentric minority may think it productive, but it is incompatible with care of the vulnerable and maintenance of our infrastructure.
When external auditors express almost unheard of criticisms of the County’s finances, and ordinary Desborough residents resort to videoing town council meetings, we have surely to consider that the drivers have lost control.
Now I have every human sympathy with anyone doing a difficult job, but no-one forced these Tories to jump into this vehicle, and it is still going.
As it careers towards goodness knows what, only the electorate can stop it.